How to prepare your cat for the arrival of a baby in the family ?

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Claire’s adorable sport coach will soon become a dad, that’s what motivated us to write this post.

From a purely feline point of view, a baby resembles an alien from the planet Mars. If it’s not well prepared, his arrival can cause excessive stress or anxiety in your cat, which could result in inappropriate elimination, escape behaviour where the cat will hide, or manifestations of aggression. Indeed, your cat was there before your baby, and it’s important to do everything possible to ensure that everything goes well and that your cat doesn’t consider the baby as a threat, but as a member of his family.

In order to allow your cat to consider your baby as a possibly frequentable human, a few preliminary steps are necessary.

Several weeks before the baby arrives

Let your cat walk around the nursery, and let him be present when decorating and assembling furniture. The change has to happen gradually; let your cat freely explore this new environment as you go.

The door of the baby’s room will be closed at times: get your cat used to the fact that this room will not always be accessible by closing the door at times when it will be closed once the baby is there.

Talc and various lotions have a very special smell. The cat universe is a world of smells, and much of his communication with his congeners goes through this channel. Apply baby products on your skin to get him used to these new smells.

Finally, a baby chirps, babbles, gargoyles, cries, yells, gesticulates awkwardly, briefly said, makes all kinds of noises and gestures: if your cat has never been in contact with very young children, you can make him listen to recordings of baby crying, first at a very low volume. If your cat stays calm, reward him with a treat. Gradually increase the volume and duration, rewarding your cat at every step. If the noise stresses him, play a while with him before playing the recording so that he creates a pleasant game-noise association.

On D-Day

Baby is here, congratulations ! As soon as possible, ask a person who can do it to take a blanket or suit impregnated with the baby’s smell, bring it home, and rub the places where your cat usually rubs to deposit the smell of the newborn baby before leaving the blanket or clothing in a common area (living room for example): this will allow your cat to become familiar with the smell of the baby, and help him to identify the newcomer as a member of the family.

Back home

You will probably be overwhelmed and focused on your baby, but don’t forget your cat: he needs as much attention as before. Keep a certain routine, do not move his litterbox, his bowls or his favorite blanket. Play with him regularly, give him a few treats in the same room while you give the bottle to your baby, congratulate him every time he calmly joins you when you’re in the presence of the baby so that he associates his presence with something pleasant. Let him explore the nursery again now that it’s full of new noises and smells, and don’t force your cat to the baby : if he approaches to smell your baby, watch the maneuver calmly, but let him. Let your cat integrate all these changes at his own pace.

In any case, any interaction between your cat and your baby must be under strict supervision. Plan where your cat will have access, but not your child, right from the start, so your cat can step back when he wants, and escape the little grabbing hands. As your child grows up, teach him to respect your cat: show him how to pet him, teach him how to decode the subtle signs that show to leave the cat alone, and be ready to intervene. Even a very nice cat can scare or unintentionally hurt a child if he’s disturbed or caught off guard.

All these precautions should allow the birth of a long and beautiful friendship, in mutual respect of each other.

Photo by blmurch on Foter.com / CC BY

22 thoughts on “How to prepare your cat for the arrival of a baby in the family ?

  1. Marv, Jo Jo, Kozmo, Cinnamon & Barb

    Hi guys! What a terrific post and congratulations to Claire’s Coach! Mom grew up with a house of cats and there were cats around when each of her sisters were born and there were cats when Mom’s kids were born. The trick with the blanket was the most important! Your ROCK and thanks for visiting us! Have a marvellously happy day.

    Reply
  2. Zoolatry

    Well done. Sadly, I wish I had known this some 40+ years ago when my first baby, my daughter arrived … within barely two weeks it became necessary to rehome my lovely Siamese, Nomi who could not tolerate the new little one and unfortunately acted out in dangerous ways toward the baby, toward me and my husband. It was a huge personality change … little to no advice or help was available then and even our vet had no suggestions. It was a very sad parting … even though we found a good home for her.

    Reply
  3. Meezer'sMews&TerrieristicalWoofs

    When we had our first baby, we had two kitties. We put the carrier on the floor, where they had come to greet us…where have you been SO long…and of course they had to investigate it. It squirmed and made a bit of noise…they floofed up and jumped away, but soon came back to see what this new toy was, well it was warm and soft so they approved of that much. A first interactive toy?? When I sat on the couch/rocking chair to nurse him, they came up too, and would sit with us. So then I would take the wee one’s hand and make it ‘pet’ them and so on…then when he was a little bit older I would do the same, but say, nice kitty, soft kitty…he still loves kitties! Same with the second one, but when I brought him home the kitties were like, oh?? Another one?? LOL!!

    This is a great post for new or prospectively new families!

    Reply
  4. World of Animals Rittenhouse

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips with us. A family member is having a baby soon and I will tell her about these ideas if they are worried for when the baby comes home. The recording of baby noises is such a great idea. Have a great rest of your day.

    Reply
  5. Adorapurr

    Very informative… but if we got a baby at our house, there would definitely have to be a Star in East. Also, I could not handle a small child when I already have my paws full with Rabbit. Purrs, Dori and Kim

    Reply
  6. BellaDharma an LadyMew

    Furabuluss post Miss Claire an Pixie an Zorro.
    LadyMew said THE peepell who had Aunty NYLABLUE reefused to due any of those thingss an that was why LadyMew rescued mee Aunty! It wuud not bee too hard to make a kitty comfy with a mew baby….butt sum peepell are not furry fair 😉
    **purrss** an ~~head rubss~~BellaDharma~~ an {{huggiess}} LadyMew

    Reply
  7. Cleo

    Great tips for those who may need ’em, but damn- I’m glad we won’t be needing them around here! Oh, and let’s be honest; dad says some newborns resemble aliens from some humans’ perspective as well!

    Reply

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